UCSF Rolls Out Mobile Eye Care Service

August 26, 2004
News Office: Kimberly Wong (415) 502-6397

A new mobile eye service operated by UCSF Medical Center and San Francisco General Hospital Medical Center will provide a full spectrum of eye services for eight community health centers of the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

The Eye Van will reach out to underserved patients -- such as low-income families, the elderly and the homeless -- who often don't get checked for preventable eye diseases and whose access to services may be limited because of a lack of transportation as well as cultural and language barriers.

The van is a gift from the Friends of the Congressional Glaucoma Caucus Foundation, San Francisco Health Plan, and That Man May See, an eye research foundation.

To make an appointment with the Eye Van, patients should register with their neighborhood health center and request an eye exam.

Dr. Stuart Seiff, medical director of the service and chief of ophthalmology at San Francisco General, said, "Our main goal is to get out and screen patients." The van will become an extension of the eye clinics at UCSF and San Francisco General, he said.

By providing vision saving screenings, Seiff hopes to prevent the progression of devastating eye diseases like those related to diabetes or glaucoma, the latter of which is the leading cause of preventable blindness. "There are few areas where you can intervene and prevent a disabling disease," Seiff said. "Diabetes and glaucoma are two diseases that we can make interventions to prevent vision loss."

On weekdays, the Eye Van is scheduled to make stops at eight community health centers on a revolving basis. Every two weeks, each health center will have one full day of eye services. The Eye Van will stop at the following community health centers -- Castro Mission, Maxine Hall, Silver Avenue, Chinatown, Ocean Park, Potrero Hill, Southeast, and Tom Waddell. On weekends, the van will make stops at various northern California health fairs.

The Eye Van's goal is to screen 7,500 patients in its first year. In addition to screenings, it will also be used to collect data for department research. The first project slated for the eye van is the Asian Eye Study aimed at uncovering the causes of visual loss in the Asian American population.

The van itself is slightly bigger than an ambulance with enough space for two exam rooms. It's equipped with the latest eye examination tools so doctors and technicians can screen patients quickly and efficiently.

For more information about eye care at UCSF Medical Center, see our medical services for adults and children.

This news release has been modified for the website